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Ray’s Bulking Diary – Week 6

Dumbbell Rack

Week six, and I’m back on the horse after a long weekend. Come on! (Sean’s comments in blue as per usual.)

Day 36 – Rest

Bank holiday; so I had planned to do a session, but instead I shuffled things around to suit my duties elsewhere. The gym has become a big part of my life, but it certainly isn’t everything. Needs must!

Good man, at no point should the gym/training rule your life. It’s about a balance. There’s no point building a healthy, fitness lifestyle and having no friends or family left to share it with.

Day 37 – Arms/Shoulders

Back at it and rearing to go! Triceps dips to start, and I only went up one weight level as per Sean’s instructions. It was noticeably more difficult this time, but I still made it. Later this week I’ll jump up again, and that should be pretty challenging.

Well done; the small increments are best for both the physical and the mental side of training!

My biceps curls were much better today. I used the same weight I struggled with last week, and thankfully managed to work out a much fuller 10×10 set. There were still a few mini breaks in there, but generally I kept going. Very pleased with that.

Amazing work. Very pleased with this, Ray. This was an exercise/muscle group that concerned you. Now it will start to become a strength. Well persevered.

Standing military press. Same weight as last time but I managed a fuller set of 12-15 reps, and threw in an extra little rest pause at the end, just to put the cherry on top. I had to push press the weight up a little towards the end, and couldn’t lower the weight with quite as much control, but it remained intense. Progress made, but I can still do better. I’m used to lifting much more weight here, but in the past it’s been my first exercise on a specific shoulder day, and minus the same slow tempo. So it’s no surprise I’m struggling a bit.

It’s amazing what changing the order, volume and tempo of exercises does to your ability to lift heavy weights. However, mixing it up is key. After this programme you can go back to specific shoulder days and I would hazard a guess that you’ll surpass previous PBs in no time.

The session ended with cable crunches. Not bad, but not my favourite abs exercise. If I’m being honest, I’m coasting through it a little bit, and may sub it out for something else…

Let’s nail it. Done correctly it’s one of the top abs exercises. Try to keep your hips above your knees – i.e. don’t sit on your heels like you see others do. Second, try using a surprisingly heavy weight. This will pull you back up, but you control it up using your abs to ensure good tempo. Lastly, before each rep, exhale and suck your belly button in, then curl down and control back up. Reset, exhale and repeat.

Day 38 – Chest/Back

Very good session! Up another weight level on the dumbbell bench presses, and this was the toughest 10×10 yet. Lots of grunting and wheezing, but I got through it all. I’ll be going up another level next time, and expect I may finally reach a point where I need a few passes at it.

Well done again here, Ray. This is a very important exercise for most men! Something very animalistic about pushing heavy things with the pecs. Great to see you continually progressing the weights here. You will, as you say, hit a plateau, but you will equally surpass it and surprise yourself.

Wide grip lat pulldown. Same weight as last week because I needed too many rest pauses to get through it. This time around I did a lot better. Surprisingly so. I still needed a couple of very quick breaks, but I never racked the weight. The reps did decrease in quality as I got towards the end, but nowhere near as much as last time. Overall this was a much better 10×10. The next weight level up is another 7kg though, which is quite a lot. I may find a little 5kg block to pile on instead and see how that goes.

You definitely need to find that block to allow a smaller increase. Failing that, if the peg to choose the weight is big enough, hook a 2.5kg (or 1.25kg) disc weight over that to add a small amount. Well done on improving from last week – progression is the name of the GVT game!

Incline dumbbell flyes. Same weight as last time, because I struggled with it. Today I did a lot better, hitting three sets of 12 reps. Chin-ups came next, and I think I had my best set yet. Really got the hang of it now, though I still need quite a bit of assisted weight. The rep return diminished, but I got some good squeezes in.

Excellent. Chins are a real man test – keep working at them now they’ve started to become more natural. Really pleased with this.

Planks. Ye olde planks. Public enemy #1. After completing a Tabata set last time out, today’s goal was to throw a little extra weight into the mix. So after four phases of the Tabata I chucked on a 10kg weight. For two difficult phases. And then I thought to hell with this, and got rid for the final two phases. Next time I’ll increase the proportion of the weighted planking.

Good progress, well done.

Day 39 – Legs

I forgot my water bottle. Unforgivable!

Rubbish. You’ll not do it again…

Straight onto the squat rack, thankfully. Went up another 5kg on the previous weight, and got through it okay. Little bit of leaning forward now and again, and occasional reps that were too quick for my 3020 tempo, but by and large a solid 10×10. (Odd thing with squats… I find it hard to get my form right unless I have a certain amount of weight on the bar. If I try warm up with just the bar itself, I can’t seem to get my form correct. Whack on a couple of 20s, though, and I’m sound!)

Well done on the increase again! Solid progression. Another big positive is that you can spot the bad form yourself and don’t miss it. Keep it up.

Lying leg curls went well. I used the same weight as last time, because now the exercise was taking place after squats instead of before. I worked in with my occasional gym buddy on this, so one or two rest periods stretched a little longer than ideal. But still, a good collection of sets. No real breaks or rest pauses, but certainly some reduced range of motion across the latter sets. This is normal, right? I mean, if I could hit every single rep perfectly, then surely I’m not working hard enough?

Sounds like a good weight to me. You need to keep progressing so struggling over the last few reps of the last couple of sets is normal; especially on this exercise where the last squeeze over the last few inches is the toughest. Just try to improve on range of movement next time.

Glute bridges followed, and again weren’t too bad. I feel I used to do better on these a few weeks ago. I reckon the 10x10s take a lot out of the tank though, so they’re more difficult these days. And then leg extensions followed by reverse crunches on a decline bench. Neither spectacular, but more reps than last time. Small progress.

If necessary have a 3-5min rest between leg curl and glute bridge, and leg extensions and abs. Hard squats will definitely affect your glute bridge, so that’s to be expected as you say. I always find my whole body is exhausted on leg day, so that’s probably why you are knackered come abs.

Day 40 – Arms/Shoulders

My biceps are still sore from earlier in the week, but this was a surprisingly good session. I progressed a weight level on triceps dips, and it was really tough but I got through it. Next time, though… it could be a failure. I’m looking forward to it. For the biceps curls I went for just a smidgen increase in weight, and worked through it pretty successfully. A few of the latter reps were a little quicker than ideal, but I never had to take a break.

Brilliant to hear you’re looking forward to failing. You are now working at a level most gym goers never get to or know exists. Well done. As for the biceps; like I said, they are now becoming a strength. Very pleased, Ray. Well done.

I followed up my 10x10s with seated side lat raises and standing military presses. For both exercises I went up in weight from last time and worked through it reasonably well, but required rest pauses in the final sets. I threw an extra rest pause onto the end of my military presses as well, just to squeeze out a few extra reps and make up for a couple of dodgy ones where I’d forgotten to count the tempo.

Now you are self training and self intensifying your workouts – by the end of this 12 weeks you’ll be ready to leave the nest. 😉

Well done Ray!

The session (and the week) finished with cable crunches. Again, slightly coasty… but better than before.

Try the coaching points from above and let me know.

Day 41/42 – Weekend Rest!

Time for some well deserved R&R.

Ray Wilson - Author

Ray has worked with Sean on a number of projects across film, web, and health and fitness. In 2015 he completed a bulk/cut cycle, blogging about his experiences with weekly input and advice from Sean.